At some point, perhaps when walking out of a dispensary or just lighting up, nearly every cannabis consumer wonders if it would be easier and cheaper to just grow weed themselves. After all, it’s just like any plant, right?
Learning how to grow a weed plant isn’t quite the same as caring for a houseplant. Some would-be cannabis farmers might want to know how to grow weed outdoors, while others are interested in growing weed exclusively in an indoor set-up. There is a lot to consider when embarking on the art of cannabis cultivation, and this guide will help with the basics.
First, you need to consider legality. Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug, meaning it is federally illegal to grow. However, voters in 19 states (and counting) have legalized the recreational use and cultivation of cannabis. Almost double that — 37 states — have made weed legal for medical reasons. You need to check your local laws to know how many plants you’re legally allowed to grow at home before you start.
Want to just grow weed? Easy. But if your goal is to produce high-quality cannabis flower with potent chemicals that get you high and help you feel good, that’s another endeavor. This hobby is fun, but not without challenges.
What You Need To Grow Weed
What you need to grow weed will depend on your setup. People ask, “How much money does it cost to grow weed?” The answer is that it can cost a lot or very little. But regardless of whether you have sophisticated indoor equipment or want to undergo a more natural process, you’ll need to start with seeds or a clone. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.
There are two other necessities: time and space.
If you want to grow weed, you must understand that it’s going to take a lot longer to get results than if you were to walk into your local dispensary and make a purchase. That may be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people think “growing like weeds” means you’ll get something to smoke overnight.
So, how long does weed take to grow? Expect the entire process to take somewhere between 10 and 32 weeks, depending on your grow method. If you grow weed from seed to flower without specialized equipment, it will take longer. If you start with clones and work in a controlled indoor environment, it will take less time.
No, it’s not the fastest way to get some weed. But there’s something especially gratifying about enjoying a homegrown high.
You’ll also need space. This isn’t something that you can do with success on your kitchen counter. Plan to create a dedicated grow space either indoors or outdoors. Depending on the number of plants, this area can range in size from a small two-foot square to an entire warehouse.
Remember, the more space your plants have, the more they can grow and the greater your yields. To grow weed, you will also need plenty of vertical clearance, as cannabis plants are taller than they are wide.
For those who want a growing weed indoor set-up, keep in mind that this is a more expensive path. Not only will you need to invest in lights and equipment to maintain proper humidity for cannabis plants, but you’ll also have to pay for utilities.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Indoor grows may be more expensive, but you’ll have more control over your grow environment. As a result, you’ll likely have a higher quality product with greater potency.
If your grow operation is going to be outdoors, you’ll benefit from the cheapest natural resource: the sun. You might ask, “what is the most important thing to grow weed?” The answer is having an adequate light source, so you’ll want to make sure that you have ample space so each plant can benefit from the sunlight.
When considering how to grow weed outdoors, you’ll want to plan for a larger area than what would be necessary indoors. As a result of the extra space, it’s likely your plants will have the ability to grow larger and, in turn, offer greater yields than plants would that were grown indoors.
Starting with Seeds or Clone Plant
When beginners try to learn how to grow weed, seeds are usually the first option. After all, some flower you purchase may even come with seeds that are ready to germinate. How to grow weed seeds? It starts like any seed: You put them in the dirt with adequate light and water for them to sprout into seedlings.
How can you grow weed without seeds? Clones are another popular option for those wondering how to grow a weed plant. If you have an existing plant, you can take a cutting and grow that into another plant. It will have the same genetic makeup, which explains the term “clone.”
Then, there are fast-flowering seeds. Those are the best of both worlds.
One of the most important questions to ask in this process is: What lights do you need to grow weed? Since you want maximum yield in the shortest amount of time, you will need to manipulate the light to encourage your plants to flower. This is known as creating a photoperiod, which is a term to explain the amount of light and dark within a 24-hour period.
In general, you’ll want 18 hours of light and six hours of darkness to encourage vegetative growth. Then, you’ll want to switch from 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness to get plants to flower. You may wish to experiment with these parameters, whether your grow space is indoors or outdoors.
Some growers put cannabis right in the ground, but most will grow their plants in a pot. This makes the plants easier to water, and it's more effective at deterring pests. But when do you water the plant? If not watered appropriately, you won’t get the results you want.
The amount of water needed will vary depending on the stage of growth as well as the climate and weather in your region. In general, you’ll want to soak your plants so that the water pools up to the surface and then drains completely. Plan on offering your plants a gallon a day for each pound of flower you’d like to harvest.
Along with water, light, space, time, and seeds, you’ll also need to provide adequate nutrition for your plants to thrive. Often, when people complain of weed seedlings not growing fast, it’s because of a nutritional deficiency.
Recommended Nutrients for Cannabis Plants
Start by getting your soil tested (there are local agricultural extension offices as well as mail-away services) to determine your baseline nutrient levels. You will likely need to add additional nutrients. These include:
Often, new growers will ask specific climate questions like, “Can you grow weed in NJ?” The answer has a lot to do with your micro-climate, as well as if you are growing indoors or outdoors. In short, you can grow anywhere with the right conditions.
In general, you’ll want to keep the temperature between 55°F and 85°F, with a relative humidity between 50% and 70%. You’ll also need to ensure adequate air circulation to maintain proper humidity levels. If you’re growing indoors, use a fan.
Optimal Climate for Cannabis Plants
When comparing your reality with the optimum growth chart for weed, look at your climate. The optimal conditions are in the Mediterranean region. That is, it’s warm to hot in the summer with a mild autumn with minimal rain. Essentially, the climate yields hot days and warm nights. That’s why Northern California is such a popular place to grow weed.
Growth Stages of a Marijuana Plant
Once you’ve figured out your setup and conditions for growth, the next step in learning how to grow weed is to understand the four primary stages of cannabis growth. They are:
- Germination, which takes place in the first three to 10 days
- Seedling, a stage lasting between two and three weeks
- Vegetative, when the leaves and stem grow hardy enough to support flowers for up to 16 weeks
- Flowering, which is another eight to 11 weeks
What to Do Once Your Plant Starts to Bud
Questions like “How long does it take to grow weed?” and “What is the general cost of growing weed?” become questions of the past once your plants finally begin to bud. This is what you’ve been working towards, and the next step is simple: harvest.
To harvest cannabis flowers, you’ll want to carefully trim the buds so that the crystals stay on the plant as much as possible. Then, you’ll need to dry and cure the buds. Beginners commonly make the mistake of not letting buds completely cure. Only then will your plant be ready to smoke.
What to Do After Your Weed Is Cured and Ready
People sometimes ask, “What are some of the benefits of growing weed?” And you’ll know the answer once your first harvest of buds has been cured. You can smoke your homegrown cannabis with pride.
Depending on the number of plants you’ve tended, you may have a surplus. It’s important to learn also how to preserve cannabis properly so it can last as long as you want it to.
How to Choose a Strain to Grow
What does “grow weed” mean if you don’t know what strain to grow? Picking the right strain will ensure that you’re satisfied with your efforts. If you already know what kind of strain you enjoy smoking, start there. For example, you may want to try to grow a sativa or an indica, depending on which you prefer.
You can also research different strains online. Each strain will have a preferred growing method, and some can be quite challenging to keep alive. Some strains may demand you grow weed in a box, while others want more sunlight. Different seeds can grow faster or take longer. Have a plan before you begin.
How Much Weed Can You Legally Grow?
As we mentioned at the beginning, you need to know what’s legal in your state before you begin. Even though cannabis is technically illegal on a federal level, states have different laws that will apply to you. Depending on where you live, you’ll be able to grow between zero and 15 plants. Some states also regulate the number of mature versus immature plants when tallying the total numbers.
Further, some states will require you to have a medical marijuana card to legally grow weed. The best practice is to know and follow the law to protect yourself, your family, and your property.
Where Is It Legal to Grow Cannabis?
In the United States, the attitudes toward cannabis are starting to soften as people are beginning to understand the benefits of the plant. Still, questions like “What is the common method people use to grow weed?” are irrelevant if it’s illegal where you live. Before you begin, check the laws.
Know how many plants you can legally grow at home and whether you’ll need a medical marijuana card. Just as each climate is different, each state has different rules and regulations surrounding cannabis. Just because you may only want to grow for your personal use isn’t a good enough reason to not know the law. Ignorance isn’t a good excuse for law enforcement.
How to Grow Weed: First Steps
To begin a hobby (or professional) grow operation, you’ll need to start with research. Start with the laws in your state. Then, determine whether you want to grow indoors or outdoors. Research what kind of nutrients you’ll need and what strains you want to grow.
Some people wonder “What is a synonym for ‘grow weed’?” The answer is having fun. Remember, while this is a profession for many in the cannabis industry, everyday smokers can have a lot of enjoyment from experimenting on their own. You may find that farming cannabis is a fun hobby that can satisfy your needs and even expand into new future ventures — if done correctly.